The Department of Transport of Ireland and the Department for Infrastructure of Northern Ireland published for consultation the final version of the All-Island Strategic Rail Review which recommends electrification, new and enhanced routes, greater regional balance and improved speeds and frequency.
The strategy is setting out 30 recommendations for developing a rail network that would significantly benefit commuters, communities, businesses, the environment and economies, both north and south. If the recommendations are implemented in full it could transform the rail system in the coming decades with electrification, faster speeds and greatly improved frequency, opening a number of new routes particularly across the West and North of the island, and widening accessibility and connectivity across the island.
The All-Island Strategic Rail Review provides six general recommendations which includes the decarbonization of the rail network and rolling stock, the upgrade of the core intercity railway network as well as the construction of the double and fourth tracks – where is needed – to increase intercity service frequencies and capacity. The vision also proposes new regional connections which would see trains operating at speeds of at least 120 km/h, the introduction of sustainable cities concept by delivering more rail services, the transformation of the freight sector by strengthening the rail connectivity to the island’s busiest ports and reduce track access charges for freight. The vision is also focusing on prioritising customers by improving service quality, providing on-board catering, ‘clock-face’ timetable, better integration with other transport options, and cross-border structures to streamline travel north and south.
The Department of Transport says that if the review’s recommendations are implemented in full across the coming decades, the capital cost is estimated to be at EUR 36.8 billion in 2023 prices. Of this, the estimated capital cost that would apply to Ireland would total approximately EUR 27.6 billion. If this investment was split evenly across 25 years in 2023 prices, then it would amount to annual capital investment in the rail system of EUR 1 billion per annum over and above existing plans.
Similarly, for Northern Ireland the total capital cost estimate in 2023 prices is EUR 9.2 billion, which is approximately EUR 370 million per year over a 25-year period.